SaaS security firm Webroot Inc. is delving deeper into the mobility space. Unlike its competitors, it’s focusing on core security strengths and partnering with mobility firms that can provide the management portion.
The Broomfield, Colo.-based firm is expanding its mobile prowess with the launch of Webroot Security Intelligence for Mobile Suite, which leverages Webroot Intelligence Network, its cloud-based intelligence service. It enables solutions providers — ideally those with an established mobility practice — to leverage SDKs and APIs to integrate security defenses such as antivirus, Web-filtering, application reputation and secure browsing technologies into a mobile device management (MDM) product. This gives partners the ability to cultivate unique mobile security services based on their customers’ infrastructure and needs.
The mobile security market, which is filling with established MDM and legacy security players, is by all accounts experiencing rapid upwards momentum. According to an Infonetics report, the global mobile security client software market is anticipated to jump more than 60 percent this year, ultimately reaching $7.3 billion by 2016.
Although it’s entering the space later than many competitors, Webroot is well aware of mobility’s exponential rise.
The company is going about its entrance a little differently than many of its peers. Established security firms such as Sophos Ltd. and Trend Micro Inc. have jumped into the mobile security by onboarding MDM capabilities and differentiating with competitive feature sets.
Webroot’s alternative approach is partnering with established MDM players. Last week, Webroot formed a strategic alliance with SOTI, which incorporated Webroot’s security intelligence into its next-generation MDM solution MobiControl 10. And, Webroot joined forces with global IT service provider NEC Corp. to infuse security capabilities into its cloud-based security offering Mobile Security Pro.
This strategy allows dedicated MDM players to govern what they know best, while Webroot can focus on its core security competencies, the company says.
“The two worlds are coming together,” said Taz Ngo, Webroot senior director of Strategic Alliances for Mobile. “MDM players have the management knowledge, and we have the expertise in security. We’re saying, ‘We’re not competing with you.’ That sets Webroot apart from everyone else in the field.”
The approach has merit. Partnering with existing MDM providers gives Webroot immediate market traction with a well-established and loyal customer base. Undoubtedly Webroot’s strategy enables partners to expand into mobile markets while keeping energies in their core competencies. And this could keep partners from being distracted or attempting to quickly ramp up technologies they don’t understand.
“If you look at an MDM, there are often over 3,000 features in an MDM platform,” Ngo said. “If we decided to compete with a SOTI, that’s 3,000 MDM features that you know nothing about, in the hopes of competing in the same market that they already have established. It’s not cost effective for cybersecurity to go in and say, ‘We’re going to go into a completely different market.’”
However, the approach could create channel roadblocks for partners steeped in security but wanting to cultivate or build a viable MDM practice.
As it stands, Webroot said it was looking to recruit partners with existing mobility practices, but going forward, the company is not likely to adopt its own MDM solution any time soon.
“If we did that, it would destroy the effort we’re doing right now,” Ngo said. “We have no intention of destroying our own channel.”
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